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Quick Focus

Quick Focus

In the ongoing DVD (Digital Videodisc) format wars, the Sony/Philips Multimedia CD format has acquired a powerful ally: the mail-order PC giant Gateway 2000. A recent press release stated that Gateway 2000 was the first manufacturer of home computers to endorse either DVD system. According to Ted Waitt, president of Gateway 2000, "The Philips-Sony multimedia CD format will enhance applications like multimedia research, interactive home entertainment, business and finance, on-line storage and backup." For DTV videomakers, this could mean that the home computer industry is embracing a new type of recordable CD-ROM that's highly video-compatible. But don't expect them soon--word is that the recordable Sony/Philips DVDs won't be available until 1997.

One final note: the Toshiba/Time Warner DVD will focus its energies primarily on the distribution of pre-recorded video titles; there are no plans to include it as a data storage option on home computers.

Twenty years ago, Sony shipped the world's first consumer VCR--the $2,295 Betamax. Today, the average VCR costs nearly one-tenth as much (about $250), and includes many features the original Betamax machine left out: RCA-style A/V inputs, four playback heads, universal remote, graphical menus for easy programming and a pre-set digital clock that won't blink "12:00" continually.

According to an EIA (Electronics Industries Association) report, consumers will buy more than 3.3 million camcorders by the end of 1995. As of May, dealers purchased 13 percent more units than in the first quarter of 1994--an indication that camcorder sales are on the upswing.

Go.Video, possessor of the dual-deck VCR patent, has introduced its new 4000 series of Hi8/VHS VCRs. According to the company, the roll-out of the new models and the abandonment of the earlier 3000 series accounts for their $688,000 first-quarter losses this year.

A new desktop video camera produced by Sony will deliver quality images directly to digital media via its 1/4-inch 270,000 pixel CCD. Unit has S-video outputs and will integrate easily into home videoconferencing and multimedia applications.

Netscape, makers of the most popular world wide web browser currently in use, will soon incorporate the ability to transmit digital animation over the Internet in real time. At present, animations and video clips transmitted via the web are usually downloaded as a file and then played back on the destination computer at a later time. This new method (which relies on Macromedia's popular Director software) may someday simplify the process of distributing video over the web.

NEC's AV System LSI Development Lab is working on what it calls the "definitive digital TV set-top box." At present, the yet-to-emerge digital TV industry--which incorporates such diverse elements as high-definition television (HDTV), video dialtone (VDT) and interactive television (ITV)--has not come up with a set of hardware standards for such crucial elements as compression and error correction schemes. This means that the market is wide-open for competing firms to set the de facto standard by capturing the marketplace.

"We're going to strike while the iron is hot," an NEC spokesperson said. But they're not the only ones; at least 30 competing companies have announced plans to produce digital TV set-top boxes, many of which are incompatible with one another.


Entry Deadlines

For 33 years, the Golden Gate Awards competition has been recognized as one of the most prestigious of its kind. The GGA, with 32 categories in four divisions, will accept entries originating on any film gauge or video format, but they prefer submissions in VHS format (NTSC, PAL or SECAM). Deadline is December 9, 1995. For an entry form, contact Brian Gordon at the San Francisco Film Society, 1521 Eddy Street, San Francisco, CA 94115-4102; or call (415) 567-4294.It's time once again for the National Educational Media Network's film and video competition. This yearly event has drawn thousands of educational film, video and interactive media programs from around the world for over 25 years. Deadline for this year's competition is December 1, 1995. If you have an educational video you'd like to submit (in VHS-NTSC format only, please), you can get an entry form by writing the National Educational Media Network, 655 Thirteenth Street, Oakland, CA 94612; or call (510) 465-6885.


Reviews

by David Brott


John Hedgecoe's Camcorder Basics: A Quick and Easy Guide to Making Videos
John Hedgecoe (1995, Watson-Guptill/Amphoto, 1515 Broadway, New York, NY 10036; 160 pp., $25)

This book is a sorely over-simplified guide for the beginning videomaker. Its brief description of camcorder equipment is straightforward enough, but the following twenty steps to improve your video rely too much on the concepts of still photography. There's a lot more to shooting good video than meets the still photographer's eye.

Audio and video continuity, for example, need a more detailed explanation. Audio is an important and oft-neglected component of video production, and this book lacks a responsible and in-depth discussion for the amateur. In general, this book never really grapples with the issues of moving video and its relation to time.

Though some shooting techniques are similar for still and video shooting, still photography is largely a different ball game. This book implies that creating video is as easy as assembling a series of still images on tape. This is far from the truth. 2


The Video Studio
Alan Bermingham, Michael Talbot-Smith, Ken Angold-Stephens and Ed Boyce (1994, Focal Press, 313 Washington Street, Newton, MA 02158-1626; 200 pp., $20)

This book is a great guide for those ready to build their own studio for video production. The text is full of very useful information on the creation of an organized, efficient video production system.

From initial planning and studio layout to lighting and accessories, this manual covers just about everything you'll need to consider when constructing a dream studio. The Video Studio will help beginners get a grip on the current video industry, and what it takes to make a studio work. For advanced videomakers, there's plenty of info on new technologies, including digital videotape recording formats and non-linear editing systems.

If you're ready to move into the world of studio-based video production, I recommend you start with The Video Studio. 4


Video Producer: A Video Production Lab
(1995, Wadsworth Publishing Company, Ten Davis Drive, Belmont, CA 94002; $60 CD-ROM)

Here's an impressive interactive CD-ROM program that teaches the basics of professional video production. With Video Producer, you become a student in a "virtual" video production studio.

In Training mode, production mentors demonstrate concepts and techniques, including studio camera operation, lighting and editing. There's also an "on the job" mode where you can actually work with simulated production and editing equipment. The software creates a unique personalized resume that changes as you progress toward completion of the course.

Remember--there's nothing quite like real, hands-on video training. But this CD-ROM is an excellent resource for educators and beginner/intermediate videomakers looking to cover the basics without the worry of crowded production studios and expensive equipment. 5

KEY TO RATINGS: 5-excellent, 4-very good, 3-good, 2-not so good, 1-poor

Tags:  November 1995
Joe
McCleskey
Wed, 11/01/1995 - 12:00am